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Physical Organic Chemistry

The School of Chemistry has developed a particular strength in Physical Organic Chemistry, with a research group dedicated to this exciting area of study. As part of the Chemistry (PhD/MPhil) programme, students can conduct their research within this group.

The Physical Organic Chemistry Centre is housed in state-of-the-art laboratories (built in 2007) within the School of Chemistry. The topics being investigated are extremely wide-ranging, stretching from the development of new methods for catalysing reactions, through the development of a better understanding of organic reactions in aqueous solutions, to the development of biosensors and the directed assembly of functional multicomponent systems. Underpinning this breadth of applications is the detailed, quantitative understanding of the fundamental properties and reactions and interactions of organic molecules.

The techniques used in the research are as widely varying as the topics being studied. Theoretical methods include electronic structure theory, molecular dynamics simulations, integration of complex kinetic equations, and development of data analysis software. In the laboratory, the research may involve organic synthesis, biophysical studies (including for example titration calorimetry, UV-visible, circular dichroism, infrared and NMR spectroscopy) and HPLC. MPhil and PhD students involved in this work can expect to receive broad and interdisciplinary training that is highly marketable in a wide variety of chemistry-related careers.

Skills developed

  • Synthesis of novel organic and/or biological molecules.
  • Physical and biophysical analysis methods
  • Wide range of quantitative measurements and data analysis techniques.
  • Computational techniques, including molecular mechanics, quantum chemistry and molecular dynamics simulations.

Distinctive features

  • Research in physical organic chemistry offers a unique combination of physical and (synthetic) organic chemistry, in combination with applied mathematics for data analysis.
  • Strong interdisciplinary collaborations support projects across traditional subject divisions.
  • The laboratories of the EPSRC-funded Physical Organic Chemistry Centre were opened in 2007.
  • Extensive collaborations internationally including with groups in Europe, Japan and the United States; a number of projects allow placements abroad.
  • The Physical Organic Chemistry Centre maintains very strong ties with other Physical Organic Chemistry groups in the UK and worldwide.

Contacts

Administrative contact(s)

Dr Ben Ward

Administrative contact

The Physical Organic Chemistry Centre is housed in state-of-the-art laboratories (built in 2007) within the School of Chemistry. The topics being investigated are extremely wide ranging, stretching from the development of new methods for catalysing reactions, through the development of better understanding of organic reactions in aqueous solutions, to the development of biosensors and the directed assembly of functional multicomponent systems. Underpinning this breadth of applications is the detailed, quantitative understanding of the fundamental properties and reactions and interactions of organic molecules.

The techniques used in the research are as widely varying as the topics being studied. Theoretical methods include electronic structure theory, molecular dynamics simulations, integration of complex kinetic equations, and development of data analysis software. In the laboratory, the research may involve organic synthesis, biophysical studies (including for example titration calorimetry, UV-visible, circular dichroism, infrared and NMR spectroscopy) and HPLC. MPhil and PhD students involved in this work can expect to receive a broad and interdisciplinary training that is highly marketable in a wide variety of chemistry-related careers.

Available research specialisations within this area:

  • Fundamental studies of kinetics and dynamics of organic reactions
  • Design and synthesis of sequence-specific DNA biosensors
  • Study of reaction mechanisms of homogeneous catalysts
  • Directed assembly of functional multicomponent nanostructures
  • Racemisation of drug-like chiral centres
  • Mechanistic studies of nanoparticle catalysis

Training in physical organic chemistry equips students with skills that cross traditional boundaries, and consequently make them highly employable. Past students working with the staff have gone on to jobs in academia, in pharmaceutical companies, chemical companies, electronics companies, and teaching among many others.

Funding

You can search our studentships or find out more about funding.

Tuition fees

Students from the UK

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the Chemistry programme.

View programme

PhD Studentships and projects

See the range of PhD studentships and projects currently available.

Related courses

Related subjects